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The Best Head Torches for Running and Obstacle Races

Liam Hallam is a Sports Science graduate, a competitive cyclist, and runner who loves to travel to Europe in search of great adventures.

Runners at the Mighty Deerstalker Obstacle Race Event need their head torch to navigate the tricky course

Runners at the Mighty Deerstalker Obstacle Race Event need their head torch to navigate the tricky course

Headlamps Open Up Running Opportunities

There comes a time in pretty much every runner's training where they will feel limited by the fall of night. Sometimes it’s our pushing the boundaries of running endurance and obstacle racing where a head torch is a need within your kit bag or you may wish to make the most of your favorite trails all year round.

One of the best reasons to train at night with a head torch is that it can completely transform your regular running routes. Running in the woods at night can be a truly uplifting and atmospheric experience.

Below are a selection of the best head torches for runners to conquer your next ultra-marathon and get your through the World’s Toughest Mudder if you choose, focusing on light power, battery life and affordability as if you're only planning a few night runs a year something more economical will often do a great job.

4 Great Head Torches for Running

  1. Silva Trail Runner
  2. LED Lenser H7.2
  3. Petzl Nao
  4. Alpkit Gamma

1. Silva Trail Runner II:

A Great Running Head Torch for Those Needing Battery Life

Some head torches let the user down by offering limited battery life. If this is a worry then the Silva Trail Runner II head torch could be a great option for you. Featuring a claimed 30-hour battery life on full power whilst kicking out an impressive 140 lumens to keep the trail visible. Thus making it a perfect partner for anyone planning on tackling a serious long-distance event that will last 24 hours or more.

Additional Features in the Silva Trail Runner II

  • Extra-wide headband for enhanced security and comfort whilst running.
  • Waterproof shell for all-weather performance
  • Lightweight at 120 grams.

2. LED Lenser H7.2:

The Best Running Head Lamp for Beam Adjustability

Whilst running we don't always want to use a manufacturer set lighting mode all the time. Sometimes we don't feel the need for quite full power to light up the road and at others, we need a little more of a boost to help enhance visibility.

The LED Lenser H7.2 offers an impressive 155 lumens at full power whilst having a built-in dimmer to allow you to personally adjust to your desired level of light depending on your circumstances. This gives the user more control over their head torch requirement.

3. Petzl Nao:

The Best Trail Running Head Torch for Lumens

If you're looking for beam quality and sheer power of light, the Petzl Nao head torch could be the running partner you've been looking for. It's reactive lighting showcases both the fore and background exceptionally well with a fantastic deep range. Whilst rechargeable the guys at Outdoor Gear Lab sadly found that full power was very draining on the battery life with full lumen characteristics only offered for around an hour before a decline in headlamp efficiency was shown.

For the power, you do pay a price and as a result, the Petzl Nao is expensive but a fantastic piece of kit for short runs and hikes where a high level of visibility is required to justify the expense.

Why Choose the Petzl Nao?

  • 575 Lumens to light up any trail with ease
  • Reactive lighting adapts to your surroundings
  • Rechargeable to save money on batteries
Front view of the Alpkit Gamma

Front view of the Alpkit Gamma

4. Alpkit Gamma:

Cheap and Cheerful but Gets the Job Done

If you can't justify the expense of a high-end running head torch like the Petzl Nao it is still possible to get a perfectly acceptable trail running head torch without breaking the bank. The Alpkit Gamma is a great value favourite amongst many of the UK's outdoor community for its lightweight, yet versatile performance which doesn't break the break. As well as a super bright Cree LED the Alpkit also features a front red LED for night vision, a green LED which enhances map-reading and a lower light level white LED floodlight which won't hammer the battery.

The Alpkit Gamma kicks out an impressive 88 Lumens to help illuminate the trail in front of you and its rear-mounted battery pack keeps bulk away from the front of the head and also features a rear LED for visibility (ideal for running along country roads at night to enhance driver visibility)

With a claimed life of around 9 hours on a set of 3 AAA batteries, the Alpkit won't be suitable for overnight events where full power is constantly needed but for many British Adventurers, it has become a go-to piece of kit for short runs and as a secondary 'back-up' option for longer events where required. For £18 you can't go wrong, especially with an increase in short distance adventure races taking exercisers out of their usual comfort zone. It makes a great purchase for obstacle race events like the Mighty Deerstalker where head torches are mandatory kit.

Why Consider the Alpkit Gamma?

  • Great value for a feature-packed head torch
  • Rear LED enhances visibility
  • Great backup option for long-distance events
The rear wiew of the Alpkit Gamma with its battery pack and rear strip LED for visibility

The rear wiew of the Alpkit Gamma with its battery pack and rear strip LED for visibility

What are your head lamp needs?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.